Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Ali Shahid
Egg-binding in lovebirds usually affects female birds that are of breeding age. Affected birds can be any species, but most commonly:
- The Canaries
In egg-binding, an egg becomes ‘stuck,’ so it can’t be expelled within the normal timeframe of 24 to 48 hours. Therefore, the bird strains to pass the egg. But owners often assume that the bird is straining to defecate. Symptoms of the illness include
- a loss of appetite
- feather fluff
- sleeping more than usual
- swollen abdomen.
In addition, your lovebird may have difficulty passing feces and urine. The owner of an egg-bound hen must know what signs and symptoms to watch out for. Leaving your lovebird untreated can result in critical illness and death.
What is egg binding in Lovebirds?
Whenever a female bird cannot expel her egg, it is called egg binding. Most female birds can lay eggs without any problems, but sometimes have difficulty in laying eggs.
The problem of egg binding may be easily resolved when it is detected early. When a lovebird tries to lay an egg for a prolonged period, she may become critically ill.
Female birds that have never been exposed to a male still lay eggs, which surprises many owners. In humans, females ovulate regardless of the presence of a male. Therefore, female birds are capable of ovulating without the presence of a male.
The biggest difference is that people’s eggs are microscopic, but birds’ eggs are large, have a shell, and are expelled.
What Causes Egg-Binding in Birds?
There are three main causes of egg binding:
There are some problems with the egg itself. When eggs are too large or positioned incorrectly, they can become stuck in the oviduct and cannot move.
Reproductive Tract Issues
Reproductive tract disorders include
- tumors of the reproductive tract.
As a result, eggs may have difficulty passing through them normally.
Metabolic problems, like calcium deficiency, can make eggs bind. Egg-binding can result from overeating or calcium deficiency in birds with poor diets.
Chronic egg-layers who lay excessive eggs may also suffer from calcium deficiency. Overproduction of eggs depletes calcium stores, which are needed to form calcified eggs. Eggs with low calcium may have thin or soft shells.
Other Causes of Egg Binding
- Inadequate intake of vitamins such as selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin A
- An insufficient nesting area
- The stress of overcrowding
- The living conditions are unsanitary
- Lack of exercise
- Smaller bird species
Symptoms of Egg-Binding in lovebirds
Lovebirds can hide symptoms of illness until it becomes too advanced to hide. In this way, wild birds can survive, because weak birds make easy prey for predators.
Unfortunately, this can make it difficult for pet owners to recognize that their bird is ill. Early recognition of egg-binding is crucial for your pet’s survival.
Any of the following symptoms should be reported immediately to an avian veterinarian.
A proper diagnosis from the veterinarian is the first step toward a fast recovery for your pet. Here are some common symptoms to look forward to in case of egg binding.
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Sitting on the cage floor
- Fluffed-up feathers
- Sudden Death
Loss of Appetite
Several illnesses are associated with this symptom. In case your bird stops eating, you should watch for other signs of egg-binding.
Rapid or Labored
Breathing Egg-bound hens often seem to be having difficulty breathing, especially after working. A slightly labored breathing pattern is a sign of egg binding.
Sitting on the Cage Floor
Egg-bound lovebirds usually spend most of their time sitting on the cage floor. Some chickens become paralyzed and unable to perch because of stuck eggs.
Lovebirds can become lame or even incapable of standing if the stuck egg puts pressure on their nerves.
Egg-bound hens may have swollen abdomens or vents. Any bird suffering from swelling should be seen by a veterinarian right away.
Watch the droppings of a hen if you suspect it may be egg-bound. Having abnormal droppings, or none at all is a sign of a problem.
Hens with blocked eggs often strain visibly to pass them. Birds that strain without moving their eggs should be suspected of egg binding.
The fluffiness of feathers is a common sign of illness in birds. It can also indicate an egg-bound bird. When you notice your bird’s feathers are puffy, check for any abnormalities or symptoms.
Sometimes a bird’s sudden death can be the only sign of egg-binding.
As a veterinarian examines the bird, he may feel the egg inside. If the shell is intact, a radiograph (X-ray) is usually needed to confirm the egg’s presence. Some eggs get stuck before the eggshell formation.
X-rays are less reliable for these shell-less eggs. It is necessary to perform an ultrasound to detect them. It is important to diagnose egg binding as early as possible.
Birds that become egg-bound can die within a few hours due to compromised circulation and airway pressure.
Treatment of Egg Binding in Lovebirds
An experienced avian veterinary professional should be consulted immediately if egg binding occurs. The patient usually needs to be warmed and given fluids as soon as possible. Among the other treatments available are:
- When she is shocked, she will need an intraosseous catheter to administer fluids
- Inducing muscle contractions with medication
- (Ovocentesis) Deflating an egg within the uterus
- Surgically removing the egg or manually expelling it.
Warming and Fluids
Your vet will put your hen in an area set to 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit if she’s got a low body temperature. An intraosseous catheter or injection will be used to administer fluids to prevent shock or dehydration.
In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend calcium injections or other medications that promote contractions.
An alternative to injections is to apply prostaglandin gel. Steroids for pain relief and antibiotics for infection prevention may be helpful.
A veterinarian will perform an ovocentesis when your bird is distressed and unable to lay the egg on her own.
A syringe is inserted into the egg to remove its contents. As the egg becomes smaller, it should pass easily. Lubrication will be applied to facilitate this process.
Removing the Egg
The veterinarian will apply lubricant and gently ease out the egg if your bird cannot do so. Upon failure of this method, surgery will be required to remove the egg.
How to Prevent Egg-Binding in Lovebirds
It’s hard to completely prevent egg-binding. It is best to always keep your hen healthy. The key to keeping your bird healthy and happy is to feed him a well-balanced diet that contains adequate calcium.
Daily exercises are essential for your bird. In that case, a veterinarian can prescribe hormone injections to prevent eggs. Keep an eye on your hens daily to detect any signs of egg-binding.
Pilny, Anthony. “Egg Binding in Pet Birds.”
Rosskopf, W. J., and R. W. Woerpel. “Egg binding in caged and aviary birds.” Modern Veterinary Practice 65.6 (1984): 437-440.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.